I’m always on the lookout for new pie recipes that I might make for Thanksgiving, and fresh, seasonal cranberries are one of my favorite November foods. So when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Fig and Cranberry Pie, I decided to give it a try.
The pie turned out beautifully with a lovely purple filling. The sweetness of the figs and the tartness of the cranberries perfectly balanced each other. If you didn’t tell your holiday guests which fruits were in the pie, I don’t think that they’d ever guess. My husband said that the pie wasn’t too sweet and it wasn’t too sour, but (ala Goldilocks) it was just right.
pastry for 2-crust 10-inch pie (It might possibly fit in a 9-inch pie shell, but it would be really full.)
Put chopped figs and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until the figs are tender (about 15 minutes). Add the cranberries and continue cooking until the cranberries pop.
In the meantime, put the sugar and flour in a small bowl, and stir until combined.
Once the cranberries have popped, gradually add the flour and sugar mixture while stirring constantly. Continue cooking and stirring until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and lemon juice.
Preheat oven to 425° F. Turn cooked fig and cranberry mixture into pastry-lined pie pan. Cut the second pie dough circle into strips and make a lattice top crust and flute edges. Brush crust with a small amount of milk; sprinkle with sugar. Bake in oven for 10 minutes; then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and juice just begins to bubble.
It just isn’t Thanksgiving without Cranberry Sauce. Some years I make the whole berry sauce recipe printed on the bags of fresh cranberries; other years I grit my teeth and buy a can of jellied canned sauce. But, I have vague food memories a wonderful smooth homemade Cranberry Sauce that was served at Thanksgiving gatherings when I was a small child.
So, I was thrilled to find a classic smooth Cranberry Sauce recipe in a hundred-year-old magazine. The Cranberry Sauce contained tiny bits of cranberries, and was a delightful blend of sweet and sour.
Wash cranberries, then place cranberries and water put in a saucepan. Bring to a boil on medium high heat. Stir in the baking soda, then reduce heat and simmer until the berries have softened and burst (5-7 minutes). Skim any froth that rises to the top while cooking. Remove from heat, and press through a sieve. (I used a Foley mill.) Place the pulp in a clean pan and stir in the sugar. (The berry skins should be discarded.) Cook until the mixture begins to boil while stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and put the cranberry sauce in the serving dish. Cool in refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving. Once the sauce is cooled, it should be covered to prevent a thick “skin” from forming on the top.
(Cook’s note: Today many cranberries are sold in 12 ounce bags – which is 3 cups of cranberries. If using one 12-ounce bag of cranberries, make three- fourths of this recipe. This would mean using a little less than 1/3 cup water, 3/8 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 1/2 cups sugar.)
Now that cranberries are in season, I just had to try a hundred-year-old recipe for Spiced Cranberries. Spiced Cranberries are NOT like the ubiquitous cranberry sauce that seems to be everywhere each holiday season, but rather are more of a chutney with a delightful sweet-sour flavor that is a perfect accompaniment to meat or poultry. In addition to cranberries, this recipe calls for sugar, vinegar, and a lovely mixture of fall spices (cinnamon, cloves, allspice).
Here is the original recipe:
The old recipe makes a lot – and indicates that the Spiced Cranberries should be canned. I decided to make less – and purchased one 12-ounce package (about 3 cups) of fresh cranberries, and then adjusted all of the other ingredients based on the amount of cranberries. Here is the updated recipe:
Wash cranberries, then combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil using medium heat, reduce heat to low and gently simmer for 45 minutes. (Do not cover pan. This mixture boils over very easily.) Remove from heat. May be served either warm or cold.
I tried to make a hundred-year-old recipe for Cranberry Tarts, but I think I actually made Cranberry Turnovers. Is there regional variation in the meaning of “tart”?
I’m probably just looking for an excuse to justify my mistake, but I’m really hoping that someone other than me thinks that a tart is made by putting a filling in pie crust dough and folding it over.
Let me explain –
On Saturday morning, I made a tasty filling using chopped cranberries and raisins. I then hummed as I prepared the pie crust dough, rolled it out, cut it into rounds, put some filling on one-half of each round, flipped the top half over, sealed, and baked.
The results were outstanding. The “tarts” were enticing with a wonderfully balanced filling that was slightly acidic, yet also slightly sweet. All was good.
Then I decided to google “Cranberry Tarts” to see if there were similar modern recipes – and discovered to my horror that I had not made tarts, but rather that I’d made turnovers.
My recipe success, suddenly became a recipe disaster. I’d misinterpreted the recipe.
In any case, here’s the original recipe :
And, here’s the (turnover) recipe updated for modern cooks:
enough pie dough to make a 2 crust-pie (or use packaged prepared pie crust or puff pastry)
Put the cranberries, raisins, sugar, flour, and salt in a saucepan; stir to combine. Add the water, then bring to a boil using medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. If the filling to too thick, add additional water. Remove from heat.
Preheat oven to 425° F. If using pie pastry, roll until 1/4 inch thick, then cut int circles or rectangles. (I used an inverted cereal bowl to cut the rounds.) Place 2 tablespoons of the cranberry mixture on one side of each round or rectangle, fold the pastry over and press edges together. Put filled pastries on a baking sheet; brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Put in oven and bake until the top is lightly browned (about 20 minutes).
Cook’s note: I needed to add about 1/4 cup more water than the hundred-year-old recipe called for to create a filling that had the typical pie-filling thickness. I also did not cook it for as long as the original recipe called for since it was so thick.
Cranberries are beginning to appear in the produce section at my supermarket. I remembered seeing a recipe for Cranberries with Prunes in a 1915 issue of Good Housekeeping, and just had to give it a try.
Cranberries with Prunes are a lovely taste treat with bright notes of both fruits. The rich sweetness of the prunes mingles with the tart cranberries to create a vibrant mixture. Like many hundred-old-recipes, this classic recipe is simple to make with only four ingredients.
This recipe combines two super foods. Both cranberries and prunes are noted for having lots of antioxidants, fiber, and other good things. Amazingly, even though terms like antioxidant were unknown to cooks a hundred years ago, people seemed to have an intuitive sense of healthy food combinations.
Cranberries with Prunes
3 cups cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup prunes
Combine cranberries, sugar, and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil using medium heat; then reduce heat and simmer until cranberries burst. Add prunes and remove from heat. Cool before serving.
Adapted from recipe in Good Housekeeping (November, 1915)
I’m often amazed how foods and cooking techniques have changed over the past hundred years. As with many old recipes, I needed to adapt this recipe. The original recipe provided detailed directions for preparing the prunes.
Cover the prunes with water and soak overnight. Simmer gently till thoroughly tender. Take up with a skimmer, and when perfectly cool slip out the stones. Add the cranberries to the water in which these were boiled, pouring in more water if necessary. . .
The prunes I used were already pitted and very moist, so there was no need to soak them overnight or to pit.